Luxembourg court rejects US bid to freeze Iran’s assets, Washington appeals: CBI chief

  • The Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), Valiollah Seif

The governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) says a Luxembourg court has rejected the US efforts to freeze $1.6 billion of Iranian assets in the European country, adding that Washington has appealed the ruling.

According to Press TV, Valiollah Seif told reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet session on Wednesday “A Luxembourg court dismissed the US request for the freeze of $1.6 billion of Iranian assets in its first verdict, and the decision has been appealed and will be considered soon.”

Seif said that the office of Iran’s legal services and CBI lawyers are following up on the case until the final verdict is issued.

He added that the request to seize Iran’s dollar bonds in Luxembourg was made by the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.

Seif’s remarks came in reaction to a report by The New York Times that, citing people familiar with the case, said a judge in Luxembourg had quietly put a freeze on $1.6 billion in assets belonging to the CBI.

The report said that the freeze on the Iranian assets in Luxembourg was as compensation for the victims of the September 11 attacks.

On Tuesday, CBI’s Legal Chief Executive Ardeshir Fereydouni said that the US move to seize Iranian oversees assets ran counter to international law.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi has also rejected the US bid as “completely unlawful and baseless.”

The US claims that Iran helped the al-Qaeda terrorist group in conducting the September 11, 2001 attacks. Iran has repeatedly rejected the allegation.

The September 11, 2001 attacks were a series of hijacked-plane strikes in New York, the Washington D.C. area and Pennsylvania, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

None of the 19 hijackers that carried out the attacks were Iranian citizens. Fifteen were from Saudi Arabia while the others were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon.

ME – ParsToday

American football players boycott ‘propaganda’ trip to Israel

NFL player Michael Bennett [Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia]

NFL player Michael Bennett [Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia]

More than half of US National Football League (NFL) players due to head to Israel on a “propaganda” trip are not going.

One of the NFL players, Michael Bennett, tweeted a statement saying that he won’t be “used” by Israel and explained that: “One of my heroes has always been Muhammad Ali. I know that Ali always stood strongly with the Palestinian people…and always willing to be a ‘voice for the voiceless’. I want to be a ‘voice for the voiceless’ and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel.” Bennett’s statement has been “liked” over 16,000 times on Twitter.

In the statement Bennett explained: “I was scheduled to make a visit to Israel… I was excited to see this remarkable and historic part of the world… I was not aware that my itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me… an ‘influencer and opinion-former’.”

“I will not be used in such a manner.”

The propaganda trip was organised in part by Israeli Minister Gildan Erdan who explained that: “The ministry I lead is spearheading an intensive fight …against BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] campaigns against Israel, and part of this struggle includes hosting influencers and opinion-formers of international standing in different fields, including sport.”

Israeli official filmed threatening to ‘take down’ UK MP

Secret filming has revealed a senior political officer in the Israeli Embassy talking about how he would like to “take down” UK foreign office minister Alan Duncan, a vocal opponent of illegal Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

In the footage senior political officer at the Israeli embassy Shai Masot, says Duncan was causing “a lot of problems”. He also called Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, “an idiot”.

In 2014 Duncan said that while he fully supports Israel’s right to exist, he believes settlements on occupied Palestinian land represent an “ever-deepening stain on the face of the globe”. He also likened the situation in Hebron in the occupied West Bank to apartheid.

The revelation came from a secretly captured film during a six-month undercover operation by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit.

In it, Masot is in conversation with Maria Strizzolo, who was then chief of staff to MP Robert Halfon, the deputy chairman of the ruling Conservative Party, and asks her if he could give her some names of MPs he would suggest she “take down”.

Strizzolo later hinted that “a little scandal” might see Duncan dismissed.

In a separate conversation with the embassy staffer, Crispin Blunt, the chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, was described as being “on the hit list” for his views which were “strongly pro-Arab rather than pro-Israel”.

The leaked footage has caused controversy, with former Conservative minister and parliamentary aide to former prime minister David Cameron, Desmond Swayne, calling for the incident to be “investigated thoroughly”.

“What we cannot have is Israel acting in the UK with the same impunity it enjoys in Palestine,” he told Middle East Eye. “This is clearly interference in another country’s politics of the murkiest and most discreditable kind.”

In a statement on Saturday night, the Israeli embassy said that Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, had spoken to Duncan to apologise and that Regev had made clear that the embassy considered the remarks to be “completely unacceptable”.

Strizzolo, while advising Al Jazeera‘s undercover reporter Robin, revealed that she had a strategy of manipulation to ensure Israel remains at the top of the UK’s foreign policy agenda.

“If at least you can get a small group of MPs that you know you can always rely on, when there is something coming to parliament and you know you brief them, you say: ‘you don’t have to do anything, we are going to give you the speech, we are going to give you all the information, we are going to do everything for you’,” she said.

Israeli ambassador to the UK Mark Regev has made a full apology to Sir Alan for Masot’s ‘completely unacceptable’ comments.

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